Scripture: 1st Reading: Deut4,32-40; Resp. Psalm: Ps77,12-16,21; Gosp. Accl.: Mt5,10; Gospel: Mt16,24-28
Following Jesus means doing what Jesus did. Following Him means taking on or modelling one's life after His own. According to our Lord, the greatest... to discipleship is the cross. There is no discipleship without a cross, which can come in various shapes and manners and sizes.
This cross could be that thing we struggle against daily in our lives; it could be that weakness of the spiritual life; it could be that situation that tests our patience and endurance; it could be a health condition that we did not cause. The cross could come in different shapes and sizes. But our Lord said there is no discipleship without the cross and we must be prepared to carry out crosses just as He carried His own.
Many of us cling to life here on earth. We do everything to prolong our earthly life. Our Lord told us today that clinging to passing life is a waste of time. This is because we will lose it sometime whether we like it or not. We should rather focus our attention on life that has no end, life in Christ Himself. When we lose our earthly life for that life, for the sake of Christ, we gain it forever.
This is because according to the immortal words of our Lord, "For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?" We must remember that when the Son of man returns with His angels in the glory of His Father, every one of us will be repaid for what he has done.
We must therefore not forget that there is life here on earth, there is life hereafter. There will be reward; just as there will be punishment. There will be judgment at the end. The Christ who is our Lord now is the same who will be our judge. There will be eternal life, the state of being with God perpetually; there will be eternal punishment, the state of exclusion from the presence of God.
As we continue to live, let us do our works with the consciousness of heaven. Let us see the discomforts we experience as part of our call to carry our crosses. Let us be courageous and determined to face our limitations. Let us fight against the weaknesses that pull us down all the time.
We have before us the admonition of Moses to the chosen people in today's first reading. In it, Moses made the people to realize that the great deeds, marvels and portents that Yahweh had done for them were uncommon. He made them understand that their choice from among all the nations on earth was unequal. He challenged them to think and reflect again on their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Yahweh did these out of love. Out of love He let His people hear His voice. He is God, therefore, in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Let us learn from this exhortation. Let us not forget that our God loves us as the new people of His choice, His children by adoption. Let us live according to the way and manner shown us by His Son. May our lives continually reflect the implications of our choice.
St. Clare whose memorial occurs today, understood the meaning of the cross and discipleship. At a very young age, she abandoned the world and its allurements to follow the poor Christ after the example of St. Francis of Assisi. She led a remarkable life of prayer, austerity, discipline, holiness and extreme poverty. Her life became a beacon of hope in a time of hopelessness. May she intercede for us in our struggle to follow our Lord faithfully and with focus.
Let us pray: "Lord, we thank and praise you for our choice as disciples of your Son. Help us to recognize the greatness of our call. Give us your grace to live our lives for you. Help us to carry our crosses to follow you daily. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.